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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

‘Gender gap’ in authorship of psychiatric research

Embargoed until 04 June 2009

Less than a quarter of psychiatric research papers published in medical journals have a female first author, according to new research presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2009 Annual Meeting.

The researchers say their findings point to a clear “gender gap” in authorship of medical research – a gap that has shown no signs of narrowing over the last decade.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Rafey Faruqui and colleagues examined psychiatric research papers published in leading medical journals in UK, USA and Pakistan over two study periods: 1998-1999 and 2005-2006.

In the UK and USA, the team analysed two leading psychiatric journals: the British Journal of Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychiatry. Out of a total of 1,236 papers published, 849 (69%) had a man listed as the first author. Only 315 (25%) of papers had a female first author. There was no significant change over the two study periods.

In Pakistan, the team analysed psychiatric research papers published in several Pakistani medical journals. Of the 172 papers included, 140 (81%) of the first authors were men. Only 32 (19%) of the first authors were women. Again, there was no significant change over the eight year study period.

The researchers said: “The findings are consistent between the two Western countries and Pakistan. The gender gap clearly persisted across the two study periods despite a reported rise in number of women entering medical schools and a higher number of women joining psychiatry as their field of practice. There may be several explanations behind this gender gap in academic publishing including career based barriers in academic progression, gender differences in life style and work choices, and family commitments. These findings have implications for future workforce planning, as well as for equity and career pathways research”.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, 2 – 5 June 2009


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